Sales to first time buyers (FTBs) were up in March and agents expect to see further increases in sales to the group following the buy-to-let stamp duty changes, reveals the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) March Housing Market report1.
Three in ten (28 per cent) of the total sales made in March were to FTBs, an increase of four percentage points from February. Further, two fifths (39 per cent) of estate agents expect the buy-to-let (BTL) stamp duty reforms to increase availability for FTBs – as BTL investors back away – further boosting sales for the group. More than a third (36 per cent) of estate agents argue sales to FTBs will pick up further, due to less competition for properties.
Supply and demand
Last month, the supply of houses available to buyers soared by more than half (54 per cent) – from 35 properties available to buy per branch in February, to 54 in March. On the other hand, demand decreased last month, when agents reported an average 417 house hunters registered per member branch – down from 463 in February when demand for housing was at the highest level in 12 years.
In March, estate agents also reported a decrease in the number of properties selling for more than asking price. Only seven per cent of agents saw this happen in March, compared to 11 per cent in February.
Mark Hayward, managing director, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), comments: “The last few months FTB’s have had to compete with landlords for the same properties and those landlords have really pushed hard to complete ahead of the rise in stamp duty. Now, in theory things should get easier for FTBs – as we have seen with a slight increase in sales this month - as those seeking to buy to let will tail off.
“However in reality, it’s unlikely in the long term that FTB’s will notice a huge difference, as prices remain high and housing is in short supply. Government needs to significantly increase the number of homes that are being built in this country to really make a difference to those that are struggling to get on the housing ladder.”